Battleship Bismarck, p.1
Battleship Bismarck
Battleship Bismarck
Battleship Bismarck

Battleship Bismarck

Found your issues on the Bismarck most interesting. Find Bismarck still the battleship which has the greatest attraction on me.

First the appearance: sleek, gracefull, sharp straight lines, many details on the superstructure, attractive, almost modern …..

The Yamato is certainly more impressive than the Bismarck Class, almost organic with flowerlike lines, but lacks the details of the Bismarck.

The Iowa is certainly the better ship if looking at its capabilities, but is not meant to be a “beautiful” ship. The same, but something less can be said about the South Dakota's and Washingtons. The ships I most like are the two Alaska's.

The Richelieu is almost as attractive as the Bismarck and is my opinion the number ONE, but lacks history or the mythical theories which plagues

Bismarck more then any other Battleship: the only Battleship which had a chance to destroy to equal counterparts (Hood and PoW) in one battle.

Note that Bismarck AND PoW were 2 out of the 5 most modern battleships afloat at that time.

The Dunkerque and her better armoured sister the Strassbourg were in fact more battleships than battle cruisers (like the Scharnhorst Class).

These ship I rank highly being very beautiful, impressive and capable. Especially if looking for their limited displacement!!!

The Vittorio Veneto's: indeed very beautiful but as Italian ships lacks credibility to deliver a deadly blow or to be dangerous foes.

The KGV Class. Yes they are certainly very capable ships, sometimes even nice looking, with their “sturdy” appearance. KGV, PoW and DoY all proved that they could not be underestimated. Still they were not lethal in sea combat nor very nice to look at.

Bismarck WAS unsinkable: no torpedo's penetrated the armor belt, nor the torpedo bulkhead, few heavy shells penetrated the armor belt or main armor deck.

So she remained intact internally!! The crew of Bismarck (2200 men) did the job themselves (1).

Yamato (2) exploded by a bomb hit through a weak spot which ignited the ammunition of the after gun turret, Musashi (3) and Scharnhorst (4) WERE sunk by (a lot of) torpedo's. Roma (5) WAS sunk by guided bombs. Prince of Wales (6) WAS sunk by a couple of powerful torpedo's and Tirpitz (7) was sunk by Talboys: super heavy bombs. Altogether 7 modern battleships were sunk in combat. 3 other modern battle cruisers were knocked out (not sunk) by areal bombardments (without combat).

These were the Gneisenau, Dunkerque and Strassbourg. No USA mayor modern naval units were sunk nor knocked out by combat.

The question remains why Bismarck in her last duel scored so few hits.

There are (in fact a lot of) circumstances which could explain it and perhaps the combination of the circumstances mean that virtually no hits were attained:

  • The crew of the Bismarck was very tired after a night with continuous combat against enemy destroyers
  • The morale of the crew was very low because the realized that they were doomed (they were going to die);
  • The brittish ships were badly visible against the horizon;
  • The Bismarck's jammed rudder meant that the ship was not on a straight course which hindered aiming of the guns.
  • Her 2 forward turrets were out of the fight for most of the time because of an early lucky hit.
  • Her 3 main gun directors were hit early in the fight and could not help in the aiming of the guns from better positions.
  • Many guns were silenced early in the battle;
  • The damage on the Bismarck (fires) made it even more difficult to have a clear field of fire against the enemy ships.
  • Bismarck fired back between 8.51 and 9.31.

    The rate of fire was low, the aiming was done by local gunnery devices.

    Is known how many shells Bismarck fired on her trip and the scarcity of shells was also a handicap in her last fight??

    Robert Veenenberg, Vinkeveen, The Netherlands

    rolivire@casema.nl

    Articles by Robert Veenenberg

    1. The Best Battleship Anti-Aircraft
    2. Battleship Bismarck, p. 1
    3. Battleship Bismarck, p. 2
    4. Causes of Sinking of the Bismarck


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